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Letters to a College Student

A girl named Krystal goes off to university for the first time, and she is immediately dazzled by all the different philosophies, religions, and world-views on display there. What ... Read more

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A Lenten Book for the University Student in Your Family

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A girl named Krystal goes off to university for the first time, and she is immediately dazzled by all the different philosophies, religions, and world views on display there. What can she make of it all? So she writes to her Uncle Robert, the only professional philosopher and theologian she knows, sharing her struggles at university to find the truth about herself, her world — and her God. And he writes back — again and again. These are his letters: Letters to a College Student: on the Light of Reason and the Search for Truth, by Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy.

Join Krystal on a fascinating tour of the essential wisdom of western civilization, from Boethius, Thomas Aquinas, and Leo Tolstoy, to C.S. Lewis, Albert Einstein, and St. John Paul II. Along the way, her uncle tackles the New Atheism, the New Age movement, and other contemporary streams of thought, and he addresses the questions that every mind — young or old — sincerely wants answered: Can we really know anything with confidence? Is there a God who made the universe? What is a human being anyway? Do human beings have souls as well as bodies? Is there life after death? Why do innocent people suffer so much? And most of all: What is my heart's desire, and how can I find it?

Here is an ideal introduction to western philosophy and its continuing relevance to the questions we ask today. Discover how reason can still light the way in our search for the truth of who we are — and who we are meant to be.

As for praise for Letters to a College Student, there is plenty. Including the following:

Robert Stackpole makes the case that reason, combined with honest investigation, reveals a world that witnesses beyond the possibility of a reasonable doubt to the truth of belief in God. His marshalling of evidence in a cumulative case argument is impressive.
— Robert A. Larmer, chair, Department of Philosophy, University of New Brunswick

This is a great book for anyone facing their first real challenge to their worldview. It provides a discussion of that fundamental question: Why do you think what you think? So many students are faced with this question when they arrive at university and left unsure where to turn, since everyone seems to have a different philosophy and reasons to disregard everyone else's. Dr. Stackpole provides a great summary and critique of the most prevalent viewpoints in a clear, easy-to-read format that sheds clarity on the philosophical reasons behind the Christian understanding of why anything exists at all. Better still: this book is a refreshing change from the far more common "I'm right, and everyone else is wrong" style of critique that many contemporary academics use and instead offers the reader a chance to weigh the evidence and decide for themselves what makes the most sense. It's the perfect gift for the university student in your life!
— Irene Cadrin, online book review at Amazon.ca

Although titled Letters to a College Student, this delightful little volume could readily be of interest to anyone with little or no background in philosophy who wishes to seek answers to the important existential questions as presented by the great Western philosophers. Some of the topics covered include whether we can know anything for certain, whether there is truth, what is the meaning of life, whether God exists, where can we find what we most deeply yearn for in our hearts, whether we have a soul and how it relates to the body, and the problem of evil. The book is written in an attractive conversational style, is easy to understand and is interesting, immediately capturing the reader's attention and holding it so that one wants to keep on reading after finishing each of the 12 short chapters. Despite the brevity of the book (134 pages) many of the topics are treated quite thoroughly. I particularly enjoyed: the arguments refuting Descartes' famous quote, "' think therefore I am' in Chapter One; the description of the innermost longing of the heart in Chapter Five where Stackpole draws on C. S. Lewis; the discussion of the limits of scientific knowledge including a rebuttal of Steven Hawking's claim that the universe arose out of nothing, in Chapters Two and Nine; and Chapter Ten, the most philosophical of the chapters, where Stackpole explores the issue of why there is something rather than nothing at all, drawing on various philosophers in a review of concepts such as contingency and the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Here we have rebuttals to Hume's denial of cause and effect relationships in the universe as well as a response to Kant's claim that we can never know how things really are in themselves (noumena) but only how they appear to us (phenomena). Written from the heart, the book's overall mood is one of an encouraging optimism as it builds a cumulative argument based on reason for God's existence. I strongly recommend it and plan to keep it on an accessible shelf in my library for easy reference to the various arguments presented therein.
— Michael Kawinski, online book review at Amazon.ca


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